IN THE GARDEN: Chelsea van Rijn from Trevallan Lifestyle Centre.
IN THE GARDEN: Chelsea van Rijn from Trevallan Lifestyle Centre. Contributed

Hydrangea are a great addition to any garden

I THINK it's amazing how some plants can look perfectly in place in a garden 50 years old or five days old.

I love how the same plant can be used in a formal garden or a cottage garden or even a tropical garden and still look fantastic.

Hydrangeas, to me, are one such plant. These wonderful, hardy shrubs would certainly have to be included on the list of the best flowering, most versatile plants in the world.

Hydrangea flowers are absolutely stunning and with over more than different cultivars there is sure to be one to suit everyone.

There are two main groups of flowers these cultivars are split between - mopheads and lacecaps.

Mophead flowers are large round flower heads resembling as the name implies the head of a mop.

In contrast, lacecap flowers bear round flat flower heads with a centre of subdued, fertile flowers surrounded by outer rings of showy, sterile flowers.

The hydrangea flowers usually appear from early spring through to late summer.

It is the colours of the hydrangea flower that I find most amazing.

The colours range from white through to red, pink, purple, and blue but the amazing part is I can change the colour of my flower!

The acidity of the soil determines the colour of the flowers.

If the soil is acidic the flowers will be blue to electric or even peacock blue but if the soil is more alkaline the flowers will be pink through to red, neutral is purple of course.

The white cultivars remain white regardless of the soil pH. To make sure you get the colour you want you must change the soil pH before flower buds form.

So next August you would start treating your soil with lime for pink flowers or sulphur for blue flowers.

Even though the hydrangea flower is impressive, the foliage too can be quite remarkable.

Most hydrangeas have large lush dark green oval leaves, often with serrated edges but some have variegated green and white leaves.

I find hydrangeas to be very hardy once established. They are best grown in part shade but I have seen some beautiful plants grown in full sun.

I find the flowers on these bushes tend to burn off too quickly though in our hot summer sun.

Many of the cultivars available are compact but a quick prune after flowering will help promote next season's flowers and keep your shrub compact.

Due to the compactness I find they do well in both pots and gardens.

I do find that some hydrangeas can be deciduous (drop their leaves in cold). If this happens don't panic, move your pot, if you can to a warmer spot, fertilise, trim and just wait for the warm weather.

Once the weather warms up so will your hydrangea and you will soon see new green growth. Liquid fertilise fortnightly until leaves appear.

Then fertilise with Organic Link.

Hydrangeas are one of my must haves for any style of garden and the anticipation of wondering what colour will it flower this year is a cheap but wonderful thrill all gardeners can experience.

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